Lowry focused on preventing goals, not scoring them
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 03/05/2018 (1672 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
It’s commonplace to see Adam Lowry crash the crease and huddle up against opposing goaltenders; wreaking havoc near the cage and using that 6-5, 210-pound frame as a shield is his thing.
Providing the final touch, however, is not.
The Winnipeg Jets third-line centre hadn’t scored in more than four months, although his record of employment during that time included two long stretches in the infirmary.
Prior to Thursday’s playoff game with the Nashville Predators, Lowry was looking for his first tally since Dec. 29 — a stretch of 15 regular-season games when he was a healthy participant and eight post-season contests. He also missed 27 games during that span due to a couple of injuries.
He recorded his lone playoff point, an assist, on linemate Brandon Tanev’s empty-netter Tuesday in Winnipeg’s thrilling 7-4 come-from-behind triumph over the Predators. Veteran forward Bryan Little skates on the right side and has been an effective addition to the stingy Lowry-Tanev combination.
Offensive production has never been a major selling point for Lowry, now in his fourth full season with the Jets. His value is demonstrated by defensive accountability, reliable faceoff work and an eagerness to engage physically and force his will on defenders near the net.
Hockey fans are seeing a lot of the 25-year-old son of former NHLer Dave Lowry participating in post-whistle shoving matches and face-washes with the likes of Nashville defencemen Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm.
Relishing every minute of the hard, down-and-dirty series, he admitted Thursday afternoon the goal drought stings but he’s satisfied his other responsibilities are, for the most part, being met.
“There’s certain elements of my game that are a lot more important to me and to the team than scoring goals.”–Adam Lowry
“You’d like to score. I haven’t scored a goal in a while. But there’s certain elements of my game that are a lot more important to me and to the team than scoring goals. We have a lot of guys that put the puck in the net,” Lowry said.
“It’s huge that Brandon’s contributing. Any time your line’s contributing, that’s a bonus. For me, it’s the matchups and the defence first, that’s kind of the mentality we approach the game with, and if we can continue to do that it bodes well for our team.”
Indeed, Tanev’s sudden Midas touch around the net has been a bonus for Winnipeg. The left-winger finished the regular season with four goals, including a hat-trick, in his final seven games and found mesh in four straight playoff games, prior to Thursday’s game at Bell MTS Place.
“Now (Lowry) knows where to pass the puck. Everybody knows, it goes to his left,” joked head coach Paul Maurice, who met with reporters after the morning skate.
Tanev said the two have meshed from Day 1, adding there was a huge hole when Lowry was on the sidelines trying to get healthy.
“We both like playing the same style of game. We both like the physical part of the game and getting in on the puck quick. We definitely feed off one another and have built a lot of trust and confidence in one another,” Tanev said.
“He’s great on faceoffs, solid in the defensive zone and that’s exactly what we need from him. That’s a huge contribution if you want to make a long run in these playoffs.”
Lowry, who finished with eight goals and 21 points in 45 games, said the body breakdowns that plagued him this season are behind him. His speed is where it needs to be and that instinctual, robust style of play is fuelled by this second-round, smash-up derby with the big, talented Predators.
“They do such a good job boxing out and they have such a good goalie (Pekka Rinne) that it’s important you get that traffic and you try and get those second and third opportunities. They’re definitely not easy to come by,” he said.
“They do a good job, like us, of clearing out those rebounds that Pekka leaves. So, it’s been a battle. I think as the series goes on there might be a few more scrums and things like that. There’s certainly some dislike that continues to build in this series.”
In Round 1, Lowry’s line received the assignment to check the Minnesota Wild’s top trios, centred by Eric Staal and Mikko Koivu. Winnipeg’s top line of Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor also had its share of head-to-head battles with Minnesota’s premier forwards.
Indeed, it was mission accomplished.
“We really liked our work in the first round. Obviously, we weren’t really contributing offensively but I thought we did a really good job of eliminating Staal and Koivu’s chances when we were on the ice,” Lowry said.
“That’s important, too. It’s important to chip in offensively but it’s also important to take care of jobs that you’ve been asked to do.”
Keeping the Preds’ No.1 line of centre Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson in check is proving to be a tall order. The unit has combined on four goals and 12 points in three games.
Maurice said it’s not all on Lowry, Tanev and Little to shut them down.
“I’d like a real even split with them and Scheif. I’d like a real balance like that, and you saw it (Tuesday) and you’ll see it (in Game 4). There’s a certain amount of production that we can hope for with the Lowry line and I don’t want to have to play them 22 minutes,” said Maurice.
It’s clear, though, that while Maurice doesn’t rely on the line for offensive production, he’s comfortable with its ability to protect the dangerous areas near goalie Connor Hellebuyck, transition up the ice and keep the puck hemmed in deep, even against Nashville’s renowned blue-line corps.
“When you play against the other team’s best, that’s usually where you end up at some point, at net front. We have some size on our back end, so when (Lowry’s) out there you’re going to have at least two very large men on the ice in front of your net, so you have some coverage there,” said Maurice.
“Part of what has made their line effective is they have a pretty strong idea of where they want the puck to go and where it’s going to end up in the offensive zone. They’re not looking for seams or running a lot of crossing patterns. They’re straight-line, puck to the net, reload, get back on it.”
Running a 53.7 per cent efficiency rating in faceoffs during the post-season, Lowry said he expects more from himself at the dot against Nashville.
“I think the first two games I was awful in the circle. But they’re a real good faceoff team over there, so you have to give them some credit. As the series goes along, there’s going to be some adjustments made in the circle,” he said.
“Our game is puck possession, and if you win a lot of D-zone draws, you don’t have to spend as much time in your zone.”
Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).
Updated on Friday, May 4, 2018 6:15 AM CDT: Corrects spelling of Viktor Arvidsson